Beauty And The Beast

Going to the parlour is something I really don’t look forward to. However, I have realized that if the visit doesn’t materialize, I begin to get a bit depressed and pessimistic. I suppose I equate it to cleansing of some sort. I’ve had that internal struggle about whether this constituted indulging myself, whether it was all about vanity, and whether it was trying to satisfy society’s notions of beauty and stuff. Ultimately I realized that it just makes me feel better, like how cleaning out my wardrobe or polishing up the kitchen makes me feel. So, nowadays, I procrastinate as much as I can and then end up squeezing it into a really busy day! I guess I work well under pressure 🙂

I normally keep my mouth shut and do not indulge in any kind of gossip or idle chatter. I guess the girls at my regular place have also realized this, for they too don’t talk much to me. But this time, my attendant began talking and soon was asking me questions of a rather personal nature. Not prepared for this inquest, and not skilled at social lying, I blurted out the truth and then bit my tongue. How I wish I’d learned the fine art of distraction!

Then she began to do some talking of her own. She spoke of how her daughter was studying in the ninth grade, and how she had to stay back for tuitions, but the school did not provide the school bus for such students, so she had to take a private bus home. The school was not that far from home, but the way was lined with wine shops and other male hazards. She spoke of how a 10-year old girl was brutally raped in the neighbourhood by some two or three 13 or 14 year old boys, who were let off by the police since they were juveniles, but the girl died. She spoke of how scared she was everyday as she waited for the call from her daughter saying that she had reached home safely from school.

I sat there, trying to think of something to say. Nothing I said would lessen her fear, her constant dread, her firm belief that girls were a burden. It seemed so empty in the face of her fear to talk about bringing up strong, fearless girls. That is what I should have been doing. And yet, I could not bring myself to utter a word. I just nodded sympathetically. I could empathize with the worries of a mother, if not anything else.

The rest of the service was without further conversation, but the disquiet was something I carried home. It bugged me that I didn’t know how to make a difference where it matters. My heart went out to that budding teenager trying to find a place in this world.

When I left, I said: Best of luck to your daughter, hope she does well. I meant it in more ways than one.

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